Inclusive Leadership

In 2016, enei commissioned research with assistance from 11 participating organisations.


The purpose of the research was to: 

  • Examine (and clearly define) the concept of inclusive leadership. 
  • Explore its practice; and 
  • Compare the relationship between perceptions and ratings based on performance, productivity, satisfaction, and wellbeing. 

The research team, working under the aegis of Buckinghamshire New University, was led by Gloria Moss, and included Ceri Sims, Ian Dodds, and Alan David. It was sponsored by CIPD, Santander, EY, and Affinity Sutton. 

Impact on the workplace

One of the goals of this research was to use a combination of two established models of leadership–transformational and servant—to establish whether either or both were compatible with an inclusive leadership approach. Another goal was to determine whether certain business strategies prevailed in organisations that adopted inclusive leadership. 

A collection of diverse human icons in an abstract, three-dimensional, circular arrangement.

The four most significant findings of the enei research included: 

  1. A new model of inclusive leadership that has 15 distinct competencies.
  2. The conclusion that people working with inclusive leaders are more productive, satisfied, and engaged than those working with non-inclusive leaders.
  3. The recognition that people at all levels believe that inclusive leadership results in many positive outcomes for the organisation and the individual.
  4. A robust definition of inclusive leadership which states that leaders who are aware of their own biases and preferences and who actively seek out and consider different views and perspectives to inform better decision making. They see diverse talent as a source of competitive advantage and inspire diverse people to drive organisational and individual performance towards a shared vision. 

The research included three recommendations from enei: 

  1. Review recruitment and promotion criteria to ensure inclusive leadership competencies have been included. Recruit, promote, and retain inclusive leaders who demonstrate the 15 competencies to inspire and engage their teams. 
  2. Review management development and reward programmes to ensure inclusive leadership behaviours are promoted and rewarded. Encourage inclusive leadership through training and development programmes and build reward schemes that reinforce positive behaviours and expectations. 
  3. Monitor attitudes and culture of inclusive leadership. Identify groups of people with lower perceptions of inclusive leadership, identify barriers to inclusion, and take appropriate actions to ensure the organisation is getting the best out of all its talent. 

This research was conducted by Bucks New University, Affinity Sutton, CIPD, Santander, EY, and enei. The report was published in March 2016.

Inclusive Leadership… driving performance through diversity! is available to download.

The information contained within this resource was accurate at the time of its publication. This article was created on 11 April 2022.

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